Sally looked at the face directly above her. His eyes were closed. Whether his expression was one of genuine love or of mere lust was irrelevant because Sally immediately felt sick with a thousand regrets. Revenge wasn’t so sweet – in fact it was decidedly sour which, combined with a gruesome hangover, caused a wave of nausea to flood over her. She pushed his deadweight off her and slid out of bed as he rolled on to his back sighing and pulling her duvet over him.
She stood under the shower knowing that it would at least rid her of the smell of him, if not the mental picture. She picked up the bottle of shower gel that Alex had left there, flipped the lid open and inhaled the scent – but the vivid reminder it provided for her didn’t offer any comfort. Instead it conjured up painful memories which together with the hazy recollection of the last few hours caused her stomach to heave. She stepped out of the shower cubicle just in time to throw up in the toilet.
As she knelt on the cold floor leaning over the toilet bowl with her head feeling like it was going to explode, she asked herself, ‘How could I have been so stupid? How could getting horribly drunk and bringing him back to her flat possibly have made things better – made her feel better? ’ She heaved into the bowl again desperately wishing she could turn the clock back.
Sally made a cup of coffee and placed it on the bedside cabinet.
“Rich.” Even the sound of his name made her want to be sick again. She took a deep breath.
“Rich.” This time she placed a hand on the body slumbering under her duvet and shook him gently but enough to elicit a response. He rolled over onto his side and opened his eyes. Seeing Sally in front of him made him startle before smiling at the thought of his conquest and visibly relaxing with the realisation that he had got lucky.
Sally wasn’t proud of what she was she was about to say.
“Rich, I…I’m really sorry….but I’m just not ready for this…..” she knew it sounded a lame excuse.
“What? Hey babe – what’s wrong?” he reached out and attempted to pull her towards him. His smile faded as she recoiled from him.
“I…I think last night was a mistake – I mean – it’s me…I’m just…it’s just…” Sally felt a thousand clichés on the tip of her tongue but before she could choose which one to use, Rich sat up. He briefly checked under the duvet for evidence of the previous night’s events.
“We can take things one step at a time if you like Babe…”
Sally tried not to cringe at her distaste of being called ‘Babe.’
“But we’ve already taken a massive leap.” She tried not to look too disgusted as she confirmed for him what had already happened between them. There was an awkward silence.
Sally decided to make her intentions clear as she leant forward and picked Rich’s scattered clothes off the floor and placed them on the bed in front of him.
“Look Sal – take as much time as you need – you know how I feel about you…” he tenderly reached out and stroked her face. This time Sally didn’t recoil and managed a faint smile. She had been taken aback as she’d had no idea of just how besotted he was with her and had been since the day he had seen her eighteen months ago in the briefing room where she had been waiting to start her first shift at Bath Police Station.
“I’d never treat you like Alex has….” he knew how to touch a raw nerve. Sally looked away regretting spilling her heart out to him in her drunken state. Besides, she didn’t want to be reminded of Alex’s deceit or in fact the deceit she felt she had now committed against Alex.
Rich sighed. He understood the message Sally was giving him as she stood up and headed towards the bedroom door.
“Just give us time” he pleaded as a final effort. Sally didn’t look back and closed the door behind her as a signal for him to get dressed and leave.
Rich emerged a few minutes later holding his coffee cup. An unmistakable morning after the night before moment hung in the air with both of them looking worse for wear after their session of drink and debauchery. Sally moved first, standing back to allow him access to the bathroom and walked into the lounge where she scooped up the empty bottle of Baileys and two glasses. She consciously breathed through her mouth for fear that the sickly sweet smell of the liqueur would cause her to be sick again. When Rich appeared from the bathroom, Sally was standing in the hallway hugging her dressing gown around her.
“At least give us a chance, Sal…?” Rich started again and moved towards her putting his arms around her in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere from the previous night. Sally tensed her body and in a show of sympathy patted his back with one hand whilst keeping the other tightly wrapped around her.
“I’m sorry Rich” Sally offered, not knowing what else to say as he pulled away and kissed the top of her head before holding her face between his hands.
“I’m not” he said, with a lascivious smile on his face, which made Sally’s stomach heave again – her mind a multitude of confusion and regret. “I’ll see you at the station later, yeah?”
Sally felt guilt-ridden – he seemed so genuine. He really did care for her but she just wasn’t able to reciprocate. Instead she gave him a tight lipped smile and managed a nod hoping it would expedite his departure. Rich knew he was beaten – for now at least and let his hand slide affectionately down her arm as he made for the front door.
As soon as the door closed, Sally stepped into the shower again. This time she smothered herself in Alex’s shower gel – her tears mixing with the warm soothing water.